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Photographer's Note

THE OLD OAK TREE

The first English settlement in America took place in Virginia exactly 400 years ago, in May of 1607. This White Oak tree, I am told by botanists at the university, is around 500 years old. Where it stands on Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it had been around for a hundred years when the English settlers first arrived. Then, at the mature age of 280, it witnessed the Revolutionary War that liberated the colonies from their British rulers. Indeed, the 'Father of Country,' George Washington, who grew up in Fredericksburg, would have seen the tree, having worked as a land surveyor in his younger days.

Fredericksburg is an extraordinarily historic town, just fifty miles south of Washington, DC. It is located at the center of a circle of 50-miles radius that produced four of the first five Presidents of the United States — Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. The state itself produced a total of eight of the 43 Presidents that served the Nation, with Woodrow Wilson being the last. For the number of Presidents it produced, it holds an impressive record.

The old oak was around 360 years old when it witnessed the ‘Civil War.’ Indeed, on May 2nd of 1863 during the Battle of Fredericksburg of the Civil War, the famous war photographer Mathew Brady photographed a group of Union (Northern) Army troops resting with their backs against the tree trunk, their rifles arranged in a tripod formation nearby. With the pioneer photographic technology extant at the time, the subjects had to remain still for the very slow exposure. Thus, hundreds of photographic plates exist from the battle, but none shot during the action. The Library of Congress and the National Archives make available approximately 1,000 photos from The American Civil War.

I took the photo of the ‘Old Oak Tree’ on the third day of Spring — Friday March 23 around 5:00 pm. I had no tripod available; I was using my Nikon D70 set on ISO 200, with a polarizing filter screwed on the 18-70 mm Nikkor lens. Another photo I've posted of Fredericksburg appears at The Walking Umbrella.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5994 W: 457 N: 10385] (34765)
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